Ruins and yet more ruins.

We are camped up for two nights in the rather splendid, but expensive ($20USA per van per night) Rainbow RV Park to the north of Merida just inside the ring road beside the #261 heading towards Progreso at (N 21.041892 W 89.630102).

Most of our fellow "campers" are from the USA and form part of a "caravan" of RVs being escorted on a 45 day tour of Mexico by RV Fantasy Tours. The "caravan" consists of about 20 client RVs (ranging from a modest 7 metres, with no "slide outs" to $1,000,000 USA rigs with four "slide outs", air conditioning, TV, satellite Internet and of course a generator. Many units have a Jeep in tow, and a few have a Quad bike in the back of the Jeep. A number of very desirable pitches in the camp site are drive-thru, for those unwilling or unable to reverse their rigs. A number of rigs have graphics or bumper stickers claiming association with God or Bush, or both.

There are also two "staff" RVs and a "staff" pickup truck. The "wagon master" and her assistants guide the giant rigs (in strict sequence) in and out of each camp site by CB radio.

I have lost count of the number of Mayan ruins we have visited, but I will tell you about two of them. The first is Calakmul, a vast site that was first seriously excavated in the 1990's and was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in June 2002.

To reach Calakmul you take a 60km detour off the #186 near Conhuas. Our map showed the road as unmade but it is in fact good tarmac with lots of signs. The road appears just to serve Calakmul and we only passed two or three other vehicles on the way to the site. Because the area is close to the Guatemala border the park entrance gate records vehicle registration numbers, presumably to make sure you return. We camped just outside the park in a large clearing in the forest, 100 metres off the road (N 18.378727 W 89.894812). (US Citizens: Please do not take large RVs, chain saws or nuclear weapons with you.)


Calakmul was the most important urban center in the southern part of Campeche, as well as one of the most outstanding pre-Hispanic cities of the Mayan Classic period. Due to its location, in the geographic center of the Mayan region, the Peten region received cultural influences from both the north and south.

The site includes dozens of massive buildings spread out in the forest with many more to be discovered. Because of its remoteness there are very few visitors, no electricity, no shops, no guides, but notices in English and well marked paths. You can wander around Calakmul undisturbed (apart from the howler monkeys) for as long as you like. Entrance to the park is $4.00 USA per person, entrance to the site proper is $3.30 USA per person.

UxmalThe second site, Uxmal is very different, but equally spectacular. Uxmal is definitely on the tourist route.

There are restaurants, hotels, car parks, guides and shops (as well as an ATM). An added attraction are the 800mm Iguanas that nonchalantly bask in the sun on every flat surface.

The ruins are pretty spectacular too. Entrance $9.50 USA.

Hacienda Tabi, an altogether newer ruin, deserves a mention. In spite of having visited this well signposted tourist attraction it is still not clear what goes on here.

Bodo in front of Hacienda Tabi.Although people do apparently camp here (and it would be a splendid place to camp) we were not allowed to do so, for reasons that will remain forever obscure.

But if you are passing it is well worth a visit (N 20.272057 W 89.512302).

Stephen Stewart.

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